Monday, April 26, 2010

Going In Circles

Okay, I just spent the majority of the day on Manning research. First at the SBHS, then at the Rockport Room of the public library. One step backwards. The photo of Manning's last shop that I posted a couple days ago is incorrect. I've just noted that on that post. More photo taking will be in order. So...number two is not number two, then to now. It actually was switched to the opposite side of the street while none of us were looking! Old number two is new number 1B. I also now have addresses for Manning businesses that range from 18 Main Street to 38, 40 1/2, 50, and 71. I do have a very accurate description of the 'genealogy' of the buildings on Main Street and will be using this info to find the exact locations that I want to photograph.

And on it goes, more to come!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Super Surprise

Today started like most other Sundays with oversleeping (only by 30 minutes) and then spending a relaxing hour over breakfast after which I dressed for church, headed out, and got there early - as usual. I guess it's better early than too late! I chatted with a couple friends, then a good sermon and accompanying good hymns, then home to get some lunch.

After lunch I made the short trip down the road to Smith Hardware to pick up some mineral spirits (for painting) and some screw elbows for mom's kitchen display of cookie cutters. Smith's had a bunch of new stuff in, so I spent a little more than I planned, buying some special glue. It dawned on me that I needed some steel wool, so I bought that, too. The store was very busy. Everyone is welcoming Spring, getting out to do outdoor projects and 'running into' neighbors who had been hibernating in the cold months. Town is busy, too, with it being a nice, warm weekend. My next stop was in town.

Today is pick-up day for artwork in the Contributing Members Show at the Rockport Art Association. If you remember, I exhibited two pieces this year - an oil painting and a photograph. I drove down and fortunately found a parking space on nearby School Street. After grabbing my tote bag from my truck and paying the meter, I headed for the art association. I checked in at the front desk to be sure today was indeed pick-up day, then headed back to the gallery to retrieve my artwork. More than half of the exhibit had already been removed. I entered the first gallery and started to the left to un-hang my photograph.

It wasn't there. Huh.

I proceeded in to the back gallery to get my painting, rounded the corner to it's wall location to find it was missing, as well. Double huh.

What had happened to them? Had someone moved them? I double checked all the walls. Nope, not anywhere. Maybe the staff had started to ready the galleries for the next show and were stacking the remaining works someplace? Maybe they were just..........missing?

I went back out to the front desk and asked, "What happens when I can't find my two pieces?"

"What's your name?"

As I told her, another staff member approached from an adjacent room. "I tried to call you. You don't have an answering machine?"

"Yes, I do," I replied.

"Um, I must of dialed the wrong number," she said.

And then she said, "Both your pieces have been sold!"


Now I wait for the check, which should be in the mail, for 60% of the price tag on each piece. The Rockport Art Association takes 40%. Hope she sent the check to the correct address!

Friday, April 23, 2010


is being made in the research department! I've finally got a good grasp on William N. Manning's genealogy. Well, at least those that came before him, his children and grand-children have yet to be discovered by me. Not that much of the family relationships are really relative to the story that I will be writing, but it gives me a sense of Billy's lifestyle, temperament, and the influences on his life choices. I received an email from a distant, 'sideways' relative of Billy's and will be checking out some of the resources at the hysterical (oops, did I say that?!) historical society for their genealogical research. My journey has found far more information than I expected was available about a far more complicated man than I anticipated. Now I am trying to finish the expedition in to Manning's history with what is left in the present day.This picture shows the Railroad Avenue shop where Manning had his second store and repair shop. Billy and his second wife, Louise, lived above the shop until Billy died at age 96. The building has just been restored in the past 5 years or so. (Update: This is not the correct location. The building is actually across the street. Leave it to Rockport to have changed the numbering. Evidently some things were numbered sequentially regardless of which side of the street. Now everything has been switched to an odd/even system). Now I need to find out where number 38 Main Street was located in 1870. Not an easy task as the numbers have been reallocated several times over the years. 38 Main Street is where Manning's first shop was located.I'm looking forward to another Monday morning of research.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

What On Earth Is Wrong With People?

Please pardon the lack of precise details in this post. You'll get the idea without the need of numerical accuracy.

Awhile ago a teen girl committed suicide. She had bee relentlessly bullied by a half dozen or so of her classmates. Those classmates have been arrested and charged with a variety of offenses directly related to and found to be resultant in her suicide. One or two of the young men were charged with statutory rape in this case.

So today, one of these young men was once again in court. This time he has been charged with driving under the influence. The judge released him! The police are stunned. I am stunned. Then the news report shifts to the young man's neighbor. She's thirty-ish, well spoken, well dressed. I couldn't believe what she said. Something along the lines of, "He's a good boy. A nice boy."

Yeah, I'm really believing that.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Monday Mornings

For the foreseeable future my Monday mornings will be devoted to research at the Sandy Bay Historical Society for my next ROS article.Monday morning is the only time that the research room is open, at least at this time of year. Just over a week ago, I began searching the Internet for information on William N. Manning. "Billy" Manning built reed organs, here in Rockport, for a brief period in the 1870's. The Sandy Bay Historical Society Museum has two of his organs in their collection. One of them is a rather typical design, the other, I believe utilizes Manning's particular patented construction. He has several patents, to his credit, on improved actions for reed organs (as well as an early form of roller furling for sailing vessels). He was a musician and a composer, playing violin, piano, and organ. He was the organist for the Unitarian Church in Rockport. He wrote at least four compositions that were published. One of local interest is "Our Cape Ann Home".He owned two stores in Rockport that sold organs, music, violins, jewelry, and clocks. I haven't discovered which store came first, Main Street or Railroad Ave. Maybe he had them both at the same time. The Manning Reed Organ factory building was located in Millbrook Meadow. It was occupied first by the American Hide Seat Company with Manning Organ Company located on the upper floors, then by the Lawrence Bobbin and Spool Co., the Russia Cement Co., and finally, until it's abandonment in 1915, by the Haskins Isinglass Company. On July 2, 1932 the building burned. "Billy" came from a rather large family that arrived in Rockport in 1798. His grandfather was one of Rockport's first physicians. Many others in his family were doctors, lawyers, and educators. Some, like William, seemed to thrive on inventiveness. As with most early Rockporters, several family members along with the same family friends seemed to be continually involved with each others businesses, served on several town committees, and held offices of community or religious importance.

Last Monday was my first sojourn into the files of the research room at the historical society. I read through the folder for the Manning Reed Organ Company, took 6 pages of notes and recorded which early photos or documents I wished to photocopy (the copy machine was broken). I gave the research room copies of the Manning patents to add to the file. Since then, 'A' and I have walked two cemeteries. We located the Manning family plots at the Union Cemetery.

If the society's research room is open tomorrow (doubtful as it is a state holiday), I'll be starting through the six boxes of Manning Family Papers. I'm also bringing my digital camera to photograph some items if the copy machine is still not functional. I'll be donating copies of the four pieces of sheet music written by Manning.

I have added links to the web sites for the Sandy Bay Historical Society and Museum and for the Reed Organ Society to the sidebar.

Friday, April 09, 2010

In My Inbox

I received this email:


My copy of the most recent ROS* Quarterly arrived in the mailbox today. As is my custom, I immediately leafed through it, and came upon your well-written contribution.

What a GREAT story and photographs! Thank you so much for returning the beautiful Smith American reed organ to life and service!

Your work is truly appreciated!

Kind regards,
Brenda -------
ROS president

I also received a phone call from a restorer in Alabama. We had a great one hour conversation!

Inspired me to start the research for another article. I'll be heading for the historical society on Monday morning!

*Reed Organ Society

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Exciting Events in a Small Town

I just renewed my membership to the Thacher Island Association. Along with the renewal form was an invitation to include an added amount which would assure the purchase of a signed copy of a new book, written by the president of the association. I thought it might be a good read so I sent the extra money. The book should be released (and therefore in my mailbox) in early May.So that happened just a few days ago and today, in the mail, I got my renewal notice for the Sandy Bay Historical Society. Enclosed with the renewal form was a list of this years special events. I'll be attending a few, I'm sure.

April 13 - Community House School Years. This should be interesting. My parents used to live just behind and sort of next to the Community House. As you may recall, I have acquired a few items from there, have serviced the piano there, and attended many other functions in the building.

May 11 - Appraisal Night. I might bring something to have the antique specialist take a look at - or not.

June 8 - Twin Lights of Thacher Island, Cape Ann. Presented by the author, Paul St. Germain. (book shown above) I plan on attending this presentation at an earlier date in May, sponsored by the library. If it's really good maybe I'll be up for a rerun.

July 13 - Telling Time featuring Bob Frishman of Bell-Time Clocks. I repaired Mr. Frishman's Duo-Art upright piano and he repaired my mantel clock. He's an expert in museum quality clock repairs and restorations. I'll be at this one!

August 10 - Quilts. Ummm, although I have made numerous quilts in the past, my interest in it is also in the past.

September 17 - 'Chowdah' Supper. I don't like chowder (fish and/or clam) but it's to be followed by a presentation on Dogtown by Ted Tarr so I'll be there.

October 12 - Ice Harvesting in New England (tentative date). Just weird enough that I might go.

November 9 - Military History of Halibut Point. Sounds like an interesting presentation. We have quite a few lookout towers on the island and Halibut Point State Park is the location of one of them.

December 5 - Holiday Open House. Yummy desserts and a concert on the Manning reed organ that I restored. You can bet I'll be there!